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Team Just Ducky is one of 20 teams -- the only one from Minnesota -- to compete in the MoonBots Lunar X Prize Lego Mindstorm Challenge.

Shooting for the moon

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A group of Woodbury teens are exploring the moon -- through Legos.

Team Just Ducky was named one of 20 finalists from around the world in the second-annual MoonBots Lunar X Prize Lego Mindstorm Challenge. The team - comprised of Math and Science Academy students Steffan Brown, Reti Khandelwal and Anita Kalatoor, Woodbury High School student Mary Rose Brown and 10th-grader Lars Olson, of Eau Claire, Wis. -- was slated to be notified if they placed Thursday after the Woodbury Bulletin went to press.

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The challenge is sponsored by the Google Lunar X Prize, which promotes the private sector's race to the moon. The race is designed to enable commercial exploration of space while engaging the global public.

The contest tasks privately funded teams with being the first to safely land a robot on the surface of the moon and have that robot travel 500 meters over the lunar surface and send images and data back to the Earth. A total of $30 million in prizes are available.

MoonBots takes the Google Lunar X Prize and makes it available to youths in a simulation format.

"These are real teams from around the world that are going to build a real rover that is going to go to the moon," Khandelwal said. "MoonBots is just a smaller version of that."

MoonBots challenges teams of youth to design, program, and construct robots that perform simulated lunar missions similar to those required for the Google Lunar X Prize.

"The kids are becoming a part of history," team advisor Mary Jo Brown said.

This the second year that

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Amber Kispert-Smith
Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.
(651) 702-0976
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